Alternative Vote

With the Alternative Vote (AV) your constituency gets an MP the majority support.

AV is not a form of proportional representation and in certain conditions, such as the 2015 General Election, it can produce a more disproportional result than First Past the Post. In 2011 the British public voted against replacing First Past the Post with the Alternative Vote.

In the United States the Alternative Vote is often called Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). The state of Maine voted to use AV in its elections in 2016. It is also used in Australia to elect its House of Representatives and in Australia’s states to elect at least one House of their state parliaments. It is also used to elect the President of Ireland.

How to vote

The voter puts a number by each candidate, with a one for their favourite, 2 for their second favourite and so on. They can put numbers on as many or as few as they wish

How it is counted

A candidate will be elected if more than half the voters put them down as their favourite. If nobody gets half, the numbers provide instructions for where you want your vote to go if your favourite candidate can’t win.

The candidate who came last is eliminated and the counters look at these instructions to move the votes of the people who voted for them to their second favourite candidate. This process continues until one candidate has half of the votes and is elected.

Effects

The Alternative Vote can use the same constituencies we have today.

For voters, there is less need for tactical voting, as voters can cast a vote for their favourite candidate without worrying that their vote will be wasted. Also, unlike hosting a run-off vote to decide the winner the Alternative Vote uses a single ballot and avoids the need for tactical voting to stop a disliked candidate getting into the final round. Candidates are also incentivised to run less divisive campaigns, as candidates will want to become their opponent’s voters second favourite candidate.

 

"MPs become more representative of their constituencies but Parliament can become less representative of the country"

Electoral Reform Society

As candidates on the political fringes are likely to be the first to be excluded, the Alternative Vote tends to work against candidates who are polarising and help those who are broadly liked.

"AV is the best way to elect a single person, like a president or mayor, but it's a flawed way to elect a parliament as it isn't proportional"

Electoral Reform Society

Example Election